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San Francisco Travelodge Accused of Racist Behavior

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  Site Where: 1707 Market Street [map], San Francisco, CA, United States, 94103
October 22, 2012 at 9:39 AM | by | ()

More bad news in the hotel world today: SF Weekly is reporting on a rather unpleasant situation that unfolded at a San Francisco Travelodge on Thursday night.

According to the story, Leo Nocentelli, a guitarist from the Meters Experience, attempted to check into the hotel along with two other members of the band. When he handed over his credit card to cover incidentals during the stay, the hotel manager refused to take it.

Except there was nothing wrong with the card—just the manager, who somehow didn't like the look of these guys. When Nocentelli's friend later showed up to see what was wrong, the manager told him he didn't accept credit cards from black people.

Um. We always knew Travelodge was kind of an outdated brand, but...seriously?

Not wasting any time, Nocentelli's friend, a San Francisco venue owner named Jason Perkins, fired off a terse note to Travelodge, and wisely cc'd SF Weekly in the email. He wrote:

"Your manager refused to accept a credit card from a famous artist, Leo Nocentelli of the Meters, saying your policy is not to accept credit cards from black people. [Nocentelli] is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and you treated him so terribly I am still shaking."

While we are painfully aware that racism exists in certain parts of the country, we never would have guessed in a million years that San Francisco would be one of them! Travelodge? Well, we have lower expectations for them, though that is in no way an excuse for hiring bigots.

So far, Travelodge has refused to comment on the ugly incident, offering to say only that their "policy is to deny access to those whose credit cards reflect insufficient funds." Whether the cards actually had insufficient funds, or if it was just a matter of the manager not liking the looks on the guys' faces, remains unclear.

Care to weigh in? Should Travelodge be taking more responsibility for its backwards-thinking managers? Or was this just a case of wrong place, wrong time? Let us know in the comments below!

[Photo: Cadwells Collectibles / Ebay]

Archived Comments:

Blame the manager, not the brand...

I don't think it's fair to place any blame on the Travelodge brand. While dated, yes, it isn't fair to say that they hired this bigot. Remember, most hotel brands, especially in this segment, are franchised, so it would be the hotel management company who is to blame for hiring someone, not the brand. Lest we forget how the franchised system (brand+hotel owner+hotel management company) works in the hotel industry?

Agreed with KerryBoat

I also would state it's not fair to judge the entire brand on the actions of one manager, especially as noted most branded hotels are franchised (which would seem to be well-known information within hospitality).  Furthermore, even if this manager is an employee of Travelodge/Wyndham, it's jumping to conclusions to assume Travelodge knew this manager was a avowed racist and willingly hired him.  Seems to me HotelChatter might be trying to manufacture a bit of a story for advertising's sake...


The blame falls squarely on the individual manager himself. However, it is the Travelodge brand as a whole that will take the hit. Whether they like it or not, their name is now inextricably linked to the event. No one's blaming Travelodge specifically for hiring a racist, but the fact is that when people talk about this, they're more likely to remember the name 'Travelodge' rather than the individual manager's name. That's the curse/blessing of being a large franchise.

True, but...

Yes, in the mainstream world that may be hearing this, they will associate it solely with the brand...but on a site like HotelChatter, where we're all pretty familiar with how things work, the articles here should keep in mind the intelligence of the readers.